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The Law of the Lid

The first law of leadership is what I call the Law of the Lid. L-I-D-The Law of the Lid-and the Law of The Lid says that Leadership determines the level of effectiveness. The Law of the Lid basically says that our leadership level determines our organization’s level, that our leadership level determines our churches’ size.  In other words, our leadership level is a Lid, and that Lid keeps everything under it from going any higher. This is an incredible Law. In fact the reason I put it first is not because it’s the most important Law, remember all the Laws stands alone. The reason I put it first is not because it’s most important, I put it first because this is where I get the passion to learn to be a leader. This Law gives me passion, and let me explain to you why. Here the way this works-if this hand represents my ability to lead and this hand represents my organization, my church, my business, and my company, whatever. This is how well John Maxwell leads, if this hands represents my leadership, this hands represents my organization, here’s what I know today about my church or my business. If this is how well I lead, my organization, my church will always stay underneath the Lid of my Leadership. My Leadership determines the size of my company; my leadership determines the size of my church. It’s the lid, it keeps us from growing. It keeps us from reaching our potential. Our leadership Lid is what we are today, nothing more, and nothing less.

In the history of mankind you have never seen an organization grow beyond the lid of the Leadership, that’s in it. An Organization doesn’t keep growing and the leadership stays the same. Leadership determines the size of the Organization, so from a one to a 10, my leadership is a four, then my church, my youth group, my company, whatever, if my leadership is a four then my congregation, size-wise, is a three. And can I tell you something? If I’m a four as a leader, my church isn’t going to be a seven and an eight and a nine. You don’t have “four” leaders leading “seven” organizations, it just doesn’t happen. So you say, “Oh John, now I see why you’re so passionate about this.” In other words, my Leadership will determine the size of my Organization. That’s it. Now, here’s the good news, what I love about the 21 Laws of Leadership is The 21 Laws of Leadership can be taught, you can learn the Laws, so here you are, let say you are here as a leader and there so-therefore here’s my organization and I start learning these Laws, I put another one Law under my belt, and I grow a little bit more, I put another Leadership Laws under my belt, and I grow a little bit more, I put another Leadership Law under my belt, and I grow a little bit more, now what I’m doing, I’m growing as a leader, now what happen as I grow as a leader? The moment I grow as a leader, my organization gets to grow too. In fact, a growing organization is the result and reflection of a growing leader, that’s why I don’t need to come to your church, I don’t need to come to your business, all I need to do is grow you, because you’re leaders in this room, If I can grow you, I can grow your church, I’m in the ‘growing people’ business. I’m not in the ‘growing church’ business although I want to see them grow, I’m not in the ‘growing business’ business, I’m in the ‘growing people’ business, because if I can grow you, because you’re the Lid, let’s get that Lid up! Does this make sense?

Somebody ask me a little bit, he said “John, what do you do?” No one ask me that all the time. “John, what do you do?” Well, it’s kind of hard to describe what I do. I mean, it takes a long while. So, basically I say, “Well, I write & I teach, basically that’s what I do, I’m kind of motivational teacher, I write and I teach.” But he said, “But what do you do?” And All of a sudden it hit me, and it hit me probably because I’ve been working on this Law. “All of a sudden it hit me Bill. I tell you what I am. I’m a Lid Lifter, that’s what I do. I walk through people’s lives and I lift lids.” I take people like my buddy Bill and I said, “Bill, let’s lift the lid a little bit, huh? You’re a young man. Let’s lift the lid.” His wife’s longed for that, Okay?  I said, “Hey, Let’s lift the lid on you.” And I go over and said, “Hey, c’mon. Let’s get the lid. Let’s get you up one level; put some more laws on your belt. All I do is, you know, I just lift the Lid, and let people out of boxes. That’s kind of a wonderful job. It adds value to people, and the law of the Lid is such an important law, because what that law tells you, what that laws tell me is that whatever our level of leadership ability is at this moment, that is going to be the size of our organization.

That’s why I put the chart on your note. Do you see the chart? On the left hand side, we have success without leadership; now look at that let’s say you’re really committed, and dedicated, and success, so you just get up to almost above an 8, you’re about 8.5 on the scale of ten in success and dedication, but as a leader, you’re only a one, now look at the very small shade of effectiveness that you’re going to have. But say you learn to lead, let’s say you keep the same work and dedication, you put in the same hour, you do everything the same, let’s say you just start learning to lead, look what happen when you start to grow up on the scale and you get to about 6.5, all of a sudden look how much more effective-you multiply your effectiveness. Why? Because you’ve learn how to lead. The proverb writer was right, look at the Proverbs 29 “When good people runs things, everyone is glad, but when the ruler is bad, everyone grumps.” Boy, Ain’t that the truth? Haven’t we grumped before? Wow! In the old testimony, when Israel had a good king, what did they do? They prosper, but when they have a bad King, what did they do? Right down the tubes they went.

When I live in San Diego, I had a friend by the name of Don Stevenson, who was kind of a mentor to me. I lived in with him every couple of months and we have a couple of hour lunch and basically he will eat food and I would ask the questions, ‘cause I have my legal pad there, and he was a very successful businessman and he was the president of Global Hospitality. Okay. Global Hospitality was a company that bought out other resorts, basically that were going bankrupt. For example they bought out Lacosta when Lacosta was going down, what they do, is they kind of took-they would  take over a resort that was not making it and they would turn it around and then make profit with it and sell it. That basically what they did, they bought resort that were going down. And so Don Stevenson, a wonderful friend, and a wonderful Christian was kind a mentoring me through the whole process. I still remember the day that I sat down with him and I got up my legal pad and I got up my pen and I start asking question, and I ask him, I said, “Let me ask you this Don.” I said, “When you buy a resort, when you take over a resort that’s about to go under, are there some things that you always do when you take over that resort?” And Don Stevenson look at me and through all the wisdom, and all the years of him doing this, he look at me and say “Yes John, there are two things that we always do when we buy a resort that’s going down.” Now as soon as he said “There are two things that we always do”, Gang, I got my pen ready, and I knew I was about to get some great view, okay? I look at him and say, “What are they?” He said, “The first thing we do, when we buy out a resort that was going under, He said, ” The first thing we do is we do a lot of in-depth training to all of the people in that organization. They are what we call the up-front people.” So what he mean by that? He said, “Well, you know, when you check in to a resort, you got the guys out there handling the bags, you got the tellers behind the desk that are checking you in.” He said, “Anybody in the resort that come face to face with the customer”, he said, “We train them. We train them relationship training, we train them how to remember names, we train them courtesy, service hood, and we train them how to treat people well.” I said, “Okay, I got that one down, train the people who meet people.” Pretty good! See, I was pastor at that time, so I said, “Okay. That means, “John, you need to train the Ushers””. Trust me. I go to a lot of churches. They need to train the ushers. I’m running in to a lot of ushers who can’t ush. Are you getting the picture? Train the up-front people. Okay. I said, “What’s the second thing Don? What’s the second thing that you always do when you buy out a company that going under?” And he looked at me and said, “We always fire the president!” I said, “Excuse me, Don, excuse me. Did I hear you say that you always fire the president? He said, “Yeah, we always fired the president.” In fact he was saying that so matter-of-factly he was still leading the firm, “Yeah, we always fire the president.” I said, “You always fire him?” He said, “Yeah, we always fire him” I said, “You don’t go see him first? Sit down and put the fire in the fireplace, hold hands and sing Kumbaya?” He said, “No, we don’t do that stuff, we just fired them.” He fired him, hm? So we fired him. And he can tell I was struggling over the whole issue and said, “John, listen to me. He said if he would’ve been any good as a leader, the company wouldn’t be in the shape that it was in. He said the very fact that the company was going down, the tomb tells me we got the wrong leader. Hello! Anybody home? That’s the day I learn the Law of the Lid. That’s the day I understood that as the leader is so will the organization be. That’s the day I learn that if the organization is not growing is because you have a non-growing leader, if your organization is going down, that’s because you have a declining leader. That’s the day I realize that everything rises and fall on leadership. And you’re saying, “John, do you mean everything?” Read my lips, “I mean everything.” If your church isn’t growing, you got a leadership problem. If your business isn’t growing, you got a leadership problem. If your denomination stagnant and (—), you have a leadership problem. It’s the law of the Lid. Wow… Let me give you my own experience. As a young pastor, our church really grow pretty fast, in fact when I was about 25 or 26, we had a church of a thousand. So people are coming to me and they’re saying, “John, how do you grow this church? Well, I didn’t know how you grow this church, you have to understand, I grow up in a leader’s home, I had a lot of leadership training just basically about almost osmosis, I mean and so therefore I was doing a lot of things right, but I didn’t know how I really do them, I was just do them right, so when people start asking me how the church was growing, I start to get embarrassed, because I couldn’t tell them. In fact what I said that, “I feel this is getting ridiculous.” I said, ‘I’m going to figure out how these churches grow.”

I remember one day I told my assistant, I said, “I don’t want anybody see me, I want to block the whole day, I got my legal pad up and I wrote everything I thought was adding to the growth of the church, and at the end of the day I have written out 88 things. I looked the (—), “Wow, I don’t think I can do a less than only “88 Keys of the Church Growth”… There’s something kind of discouraging about that title, don’t you think?”

Yeah, because if I’m going to talk to you about the “88 Keys of the Church Growth”…well, maybe this is going to be a long lesson today. So I tried to reduce it, bring it down, and finally I thought, “You know why my church is growing? It’s because I work hard. So went around doing conferences and I would tell these pastors to work hard. I had this whole message on laziness. I mean, I just kicked them. I just kicked them an awful lot. I mean, I just said, “C’mon, you guys, get-quit being so lazy, get up early, work late, ho-ho-ho, and then you know what happened? I saw these wonderful people who really did work hard. In fact, some of them were working harder than me, and their church weren’t growing at all. And they said, “Oh, no. That’s not how the church is growing. It’s not that the early bird’s getting the worm stuff. So then I said, “OK, since I’m in the ministry, and it’s a Church, so I got to get splurge over here.” So then I started to said, “I know what you got to do if you really want to grow a church. You got to get Godly and spirit feel-you got spirit feel, you can really grow a church.” So all these people coming down and get spirit feel, you know what I’m saying? They’re praying and crying, and asking God, and many that are praying I’m feeling-I’m saying,  “Wonderful! Now I got them spirit feel!” Now you know what I found back in that church? They still didn’t grow. Now that’s when I realize it’s not about relationship-don’t get mad at me now-there’s no relationship between godliness and growth. Some of the most godly people in the world I know can’t grow leads. Are they going to heaven? Yep. Love God? Yep. Can they grow anything? Nope.

And then I discovered it. In 1977, I discovered it. What I discovered is that everything rises and falls on leadership, that if you know how to lead, you can grow an organization-and if you don’t know how to lead, you can be sincere, you can work hard, and still you cannot grow your organization.  I have seen it happen so many times-a non-leader leaves a church and a leader goes into it and then is starts growing. A non-leader leaves a business and a leader goes into it, and the business start growing. Everything rises and falls on leadership. It’s called the Law of the Lid.

So we got to ask ourselves some questions. In fact in this workbook, I’ve designed some questions for us to ask. This’ll (—): what is the lid number on my leadership, from a 1 to a 10, 1 being poor and 10 being perfect? What kind of number would I put on my leadership head today? You see, there are some of you that are now 2 or 3. There are some of you that are 9 or 10. I don’t care what the number is, because here’s the good news: No matter what the number is today, you can grow as a leader.  So the good news is, where ever you begin, you want to move up a notch or two. But what is the number on your leadership?

But now the second question would-this’ll keep you honest-would those around me agree with my assessment? Oh… that is nasty. Isn’t that of nasty to have a question like that? Ask your spouse… well, maybe you shouldn’t ask your spouse. Wait a couple of days until you’re psychologically and emotionally strong… then ask your spouse. Ask the people around you, “What number would you put on my head as far as a leader?” I love the story of-you’ve heard the story, haven’t you-about the pastor who wants anyone he preaches a great pastor? I mean, he really hit it. Hit the ball out of the park. And he’s feeling pretty good about it. These people are following him out and say, “Oh, great message, Pastor, great message.” So he’s driving home and his wife, they’re going to go to Sunday dinner and he just really feels good, he feels good about what he really did this morning and look at his wife and said, “Honey, let me ask you a question, how many great preachers do you think there really are in this world?” I mean, “How many are grrrrrreat preachers do you think there really are in his world?” She said, “One less than you think.”

Ask the people around you-how good of a leader am I? C’mon, talk to me, what am I from a 1 to 10? And number three: What is my plan to increase my Lid number? Okay, what plan do I have to get up to another level? And then, what are the Lid numbers of those that work with me? Now this is a great question. Now, this is going to take time You cannot do it obviously today, not in this day, but I do want to encourage you to write down the names of four or five people that are the closest people to you. In other words, it is important that they are good because they are working right beside you. And I want you to put their names, and then I want you to put the numbers on their heads. And then I would like you to ask this question-question #5, what is my plan to increase their lid numbers? You see, what amazes me-let me just talk to you for a second-there are a couple of things-well, there are a lot of things that amazes me, but there are a couple of things that amazes me about the subject right here. The moment that a person understands that Leadership is key to their success, I’m amazed when I look at them and say, “What is your plan to develop as a leader yourself?” And many people, most people that I ran into said, “I don’t have a plan.”

Something so important and we don’t have a plan?

And I’ll ask them, “Do you believe those closest to you are going to determine your level of success? They say, “We sure do.” And then I’ll say, “What’s your plan to develop them? What’s your plan to encourage them? To grow as a leader? I mean what-what are you doing to help them go to another level? And they all look at me saying, “John, what do you mean?”

Now, don’t get discouraged because I’m going to give you a plan before this conference resume. Because here’s what I know: when you learn to grow yourself and when you learn to grow others, It’s that day your life will be incredibly, unbelievably changed. I received the letter the other day, I think I’ll take a moment to read it. It’s from a pastor in Green Rapids and he says, “I want to make sure that I told you, there’s one Law in particular has changed my life the most and that’s the Law of the Lid. I heard the you talk about for the first time it in (City name-Ames?), Indiana, in 1993.” He said, “That day I understood that my leadership will determine my success.” And then he said, “John, that’s the day I decided to become a Leader. That’s what I’m hoping for you. I wasn’t going to do this but I just got a letter the other day too from a fellow by the name Dr. Gary Ashley. And Gary’s talking to me, and he’s talking about leadership and his development as a person  And he said that he came into a conference of ours, and he said, “When he left the conference, I had a whole new perspective of leadership.” He said-a few months later he said, “God moved me to a new church and the church’s size is about a half that the one I left and that it had been dead in the water for a number of years.” And he said, “I knew it was God’s will.” He said in 1992, “The average of worship attendance was 200 people. Now, okay, you get the picture-that in 1992, average worship attendance is 200 people. He said, “In last Sunday, 1034 people attended our two worship services. In 1992 our church’s income was 4014,” He said, “Last year our income was past 1.5 million” He said, “On Easter, we’re going to rent our city’s convention hall and we’re expecting 1800 people to be present.”

Now, this if what I live for, right here, I want to live to lead a new life. Let me ask you a question-this is kind of an IQ test. How many of you, if you’re in the business world, would like to grow your business? How many of you, if you’re in the church world, would like to grow your church? How many of you, if you’re in the academic world, would like to be a better leader? Just raise your hand-how many of you would like to grow, would you raise your hand? Ooh…

I believe that.

The good news is hat we’re going to learn to take the lid and go higher.

Now, in each one of these Laws you’ll find a resource section. I’ll have four or five things that will help you really learn the law that you had just learn. And the reason that I have it is that some of you are going to be strong, some of you are going to be weak in. For example, the five levels of leadership is a two hours video kit that will help you understand the five levels of leadership in every organization. Then there’s a Maximum Impact club tape called Leadership Limitations and another one of Enjoying Life club called Lifting People to a Higher Level. Then my book that I wrote a few years ago, Developing the Leader Within You.

Resources, to help to take you to a new level.


                                                                              (  John C Maxwell )



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